A Successful Transition

Just nine months after releasing his self-titled debut album, Ryan Leslie returns with his sophomore follow-up entitled Transition. Released on Nov. 3, Transition is comprised of 11 tracks filled with transient romance. Leslie takes his listeners on a journey through his experiences of being in love and its perplexities. The album is chiefly a smooth and refreshing ride from start to finish, but not without a few flaws.

The production on this album is one of its strongest components. Futuristic instrumentals, ranging from up-tempo to mellow, fill the tracks with rhythmic delight. Each song seamlessly blends into the next, making the album an effortless listen. The style and format is intimately unique to Leslie as both a producer and artist.

The opening song, “Never Gonna Break Up,” is an upbeat fusion of urban 1970s music with a modern allure. The album opens with the story of a recent and not-so-pleasant break-up in which Leslie croons, “If it’s the right time then I’ll find my baby / And when I find her I’ll promise I’m never gonna break up.” Arguably one of the best songs on the album, “Never Gonna Break Up” sets the smooth tone for the rest of the record.

“Something That I Like” continues the steady pace, as Leslie spews out transparent R&B-friendly rap along side Pusha T, one-half of the rap duo Clipse, in a song about his rousing attraction and pursuit of a new girl. He sticks to easy listening rap in the unimaginative “Zodiac” as he utters, “What’s your zodiac sign? / Are we compatible baby?”

The chronicle of romance flows along uneventfully with light-hearted lyrics until track number six, the first official single off the album, “You’re Not My Girl.”

The acoustically pleasing track brings the catchy refrain, “Just remember / That you’re not, you’re not, my girl” mixed with vibrant vocals, which spark a new life to the order.

Unfortunately, the songs that follow become reminiscent of Leslie’s first album. Around tracks eight and nine, the procession seems to fall flat and generic. The self-reflective ballad “All My Love” brings the tempo back up as the final, heartfelt melody “I Choose You” closes the album on a plateau.

Overall, Transition is a good album.

Though it may lack some substance, the bare music and its production is likely to prevent any listener from skipping over a song. The light-hearted approach to the subject matter automatically puts the listener at ease. Still, more is expected from the Harvard-educated artist and producer. Perhaps, the album was a bit rushed or maybe it was a slight transition of artistic expression. Regardless, Leslie seems to have enjoyed himself creating the album and any listener should feel the same
hearing it.